A Few Spoons That Cost Me Dearly

BY S. RAGHUL

It was a fine Sunday morning and my uncle’s family and my cousins had come to visit us . We planned to go out for lunch . We had two options to make : a traditional south Indian hotel or a luxurious star hotel where you get to see waiters taking orders in their tablet phones . As soon as the option was put forth , all the youngsters , including me , echoed in for the latter choice .With great excitement , we stepped into the swanky hotel and the security guard saluted us as if we were army commandos issuing orders for a high – level national operation . The huge decorative light at the centre of the lobby , spot clean floors , a pretty lady at the information centre ,mild piped music , neatly dressed men at the reception welcomed us . Somebody in our group suggested that we could go in for a buffet as we could have unlimited variety and quantity . As we checked in the rates of buffet with the fluent – English speaking waiter , he informed us “ our continental buffet lunch costs INR 850 plus taxes sir “ . Suddenly everything around us which seemed soothing till now ceased to soothe us any more . We had a brief discussion within ourselves which had nothing to do with the cost , but about how to get out from the hotel with less embarrassment .

The waiter who understood our reluctancy told us “I will better check the cost again sir “ . We were bit happy that he would come up with some “economy package “. He turned again and started with his usual pronunciation “sir we are sorry . Weekend buffet costs INR 900 plus taxes “ . We decided that it would be better to move out of this place before he came up with the next offer of “INR 1000 plus taxes “. This time it seemed as if the guard at the entrance opened us the door as if showing us the way out , or atleast it appeared to me like that . That pride of sounding like an army officer died down . Somebody in us , still unaffected by the encounter with the previous hotel staff suggested that we go to the food court at a nearby mall . I think that the hunger in us made the elders say “yes” to the proposal .Into the mall , the hotels were swanky but the level of luxury and fanciness had dipped by some levels in these hotels , and so had the cost . We found ourselves a nice cozy place at a restaurant. As I opened the menu card I had been given , it looked like this ……

 

388 ……… Italian Cream Pasta

356………. Hong Kong Noodles

408………. American corn pizza

and the list went on with each food complemented by a country’s name. I thought that those numbers were some unique ID numbers given for that dish and I searched for the prices . Later did I come to know that they were the rates I was looking for . sizzlerSaturated by cost – factors ,we decided to order some food this time . I looked for the cheapest item and found that Veg Sandwich was the cheapest with a cost of INR 98 plus taxes . Did I say “plus taxes” .Excuse me .  Suddenly there was a sizzling sound and it was my elder cousin who had ordered for some Mexican sizzlers . Now curiosity dint leave me . I ordered an Italian sizzler for my part . After a few spoons, I lost interest   . The memories of my favourite idli sambar and poori bhaaji crowded my mind . My eating speed slowed down and finally came to a halt . All others were already full , which meant that I had to slug it out with the sizzler alone or waste it . As I tossed the menu card , I could see that my sizzler had cost a dearly INR 500 and I could see that INR 300 was still remaining on my plate . But I advanced to the washroom as I thought it would be a better option .

As my uncle paid the bill amount of INR 3600 , the guilt in me built upon . But the fact that it had cost us lesser than the previous hotel was the only way I could convince myself .